Friday, May 1, 2009

The World's Obsession with Starbucks

By Kara Jordhoy

Starbucks, a national phenomenon, has influenced our lives by becoming a daily visual. As I was driving down the street last week, I noticed that some workers were building a new shopping center. When I looked at the signs to see if I recognized any of these places that were about to be built, I noticed a particular name that our community and world have grown to love: Starbucks. How did we all become so obsessed with this franchise?

Now I admit that I am guilty of this pricey pleasure myself. I believed we are all unknowingly obsessed, as there are more than 10,000 Starbucks around the world. There are two in New Brunswick and a couple in surrounding towns such as North Brunswick and Edison. Two years ago, I went to Florida over Christmas break and I could not find a Starbucks anywhere. It had been one week and I was about to rip my hair out. I felt exhausted, irritable and even freaked out on my parents a few times. I longed for the taste of a delicious latte specifically made for each of my taste buds. However, I did not care for just any average cup of joe. I wanted Starbucks. When I finally located one, I asked how many there were in the city. The person answered, “One.” Having heard this surprising news, I felt so SPOILED. Due to growing up in The Woodlands, Texas, a big community with an addiction to coffee, I have always had a Starbucks within a close proximity. Yet these realistic reasons did not stop me from gulping down my white chocolate mocha with great pleasure.

I never realized how much our area is fixated on Starbucks until that trip. It seems like everywhere I look, there is yet ANOTHER green circle with that angelic woman in the center, begging me to fork over three bucks for the sweet taste of caffeine. In places like New York City, there is literally a Starbucks on every corner. Even small towns in the South are becoming just like the Big Apple. When will enough be enough? Isn’t the South known for regular food and simple living? And why must we have so many Starbucks?

According to the official Starbucks website, it all started in 1971 when Jerry Baldwin, Zev Siegel and Gordon Bowker, who all loved exotic spices, founded a coffee and tea shop in Seattle. Howard Schultz, the future CEO of Starbucks, noticed that their coffeemaker sold more than Macy’s own brand. After tasting Starbucks’ coffee, Schultz became hooked and instantly sought to help the business spread. Though much persuasion needed to be used in order to pursue Schultz’s visions for Starbucks, he eventually led the business across domestically and internationally. The idea was that this certain brand of coffee was fresher and better because they used dark-roasted nuts to make their drinks.

After many years of selling coffees, cappuccinos, lattes and teas, Starbucks has not just become a coffee shop, but an experience by itself. Its image is classy, yet friendly, and always a treat, like an ice cream shop for adults young and old. Starbucks has clearly captivated the taste buds of any who come close to it. The franchise represents finer taste and the arts, so that it will gain more sales. Though business has boomed for Starbucks, it has also increased conformity, for many people will now only drink Starbucks coffee and refuse to try other brands.

Though there are Starbucks cafes around the world, Europe does not seem as addicted to them as the United States is. For example, I met a French girl at a Christmas party just a few months ago. She told me that they had one Starbucks in Paris because they think the sizes are too big. They enjoy sipping little cups of coffee. Needless to say, I felt like a typical American pig.

Obviously, America’s obsession with Starbucks has helped make the obesity rate grow more. We do not have to walk far to get to yet another Starbucks; one can go merely two blocks before finding another coffee place to go to. How did America become so obsessed? These money-making monopolies are slowly taking over the entire world, with the fa├žade of delicious coffees to delude the latte-addicted people of our country.

Not only is Starbucks an expensive treat, but it also does harm to our environment. Employees waste an estimated 23 million liters of water a day (One News) by merely leaving the water tap on. With economical and social reasons like these, how can we really support Starbucks as a business?

So yes, our privileged communities and many others rely excessively on the joys of Starbucks. We do not need all of this coffee brewing in our home. When I go out into the real world, I will have to learn to live without these wonderful drinks unless I want my wallet empty. My family and I waste much of our money on this luxury because it tortures us with its smell everywhere we go. The sad and hypocritical part of this story is that none of these emotionally disgusting details will stop me from going down to Starbucks and purchasing a double tall caramel macchiato with extra whip cream tomorrow.

Kara Jordhoy is a student at Rutgers University. She plans on double majoring in communication and social work, with a minor in dance.

No comments:

Post a Comment